Dealing With The Bully Boss
You could try out this four-step ‘bully-proof’ process:
Step 1: Expect it
Anticipate the poor behaviour, don’t be surprised. Your boss’s behaviour is not about you, so don’t take it personally.
Step 2: Diffuse it
Learn some ready-made responses. Listen to what they are attacking you for or what they are “going off” at you for. After listening, a non-defensive response could be: “That’s interesting, do you think so? Perhaps you are right”. (This approach can really put them off-course).
Step 3: Practice it
Gain some confidence first. The key to being ready for when your boss loses his or her cool, is to be ready. Practice some ready-made responses so they sound natural before you attempt them.
Step 4: Confront it
Meet your boss head on (it’s their worst nightmare). Now that you have had a chance to cool off and get your emotions in check, you are ready. Remember not to show weakness or apologise for their poor behaviour.
Here are some tips on how to ‘confront’ your bully boss:
- EMPATHY: Dial up your level of empathy (as challenging as this can be)
eg – he really just wants me to get better outcomes, he is just socially awkward!
- EYE: Look them directly in the eye and ask “what specifically is the issue here?”
- EXAMPLE: Describe the problem behaviour (don’t attack or label your boss)
eg “when I get yelled at & sworn at after every project….”
- EFFECT: Explain how their behaviour is impacting you specifically
eg “… I feel demoralized”
- EXPECTATION: Make a clear request (not a demand!)
eg “..It actually scares me when you yell & swear at me. I’d prefer you just tell me you are angry and we can discuss when we are both calmer”
- ESCALATE: Take it further if they fail to do what you have asked them to do.
Finally if they continue being a jerk, you must follow through on your promise and escalate!
- Everyone has the right to feel safe and respected at work;
- It has nothing to do with blame, and all to do about taking responsibility;
- Seek help (internally or externally), speak up, you don’t have to go through it alone;
- Don’t wait too long to act, as life is way too short!
BLYTHE ROWE // People & Culture Expert
Find out how to engage Blythe and her team to deliver her signature workshop on how to “Combat Bullying”, at Human Incite: www.humanincite.com.au or check her out at www.blytherowe.com